Continuing the topic of NICE, being taught to be a nice girl, to not be a nice guy… If you are male and reading this you might be thinking, “but, hey, I *am* a nice guy!”
Maybe so. And maybe… Let me introduce you to a term well-known in feminist circles, maybe not-so-much elsewhere: NICE GUYS™.
Here’s one definition from Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog:
Nice Guys™: The “™” marks the difference between men who are genuinely nice people and men with entitlement issues who wail “but I’m a nice guy!”. There are two types, which often overlap in one individual:
- a guy who believes that the simple act of being decent means that the universe owes him a girlfriend [more from Jeff Fecke at Shakesville]
- men who are looking to date a woman with the appearance of a supermodel, and yet they continually whine about how “women don’t like nice guys – they only want good-looking assholes
And there’s an entire rant (and response) repository on HeartlessBitches.com. It’s great, read it when you have time to get sucked in… Here’s how they introduce the topic:
All too often we hear self-professed “Nice Guys” complaining about why they can’t get a date, and whining that women just want to date jerks, etc. etc. The truth of the matter is that there are genuinely caring, compassionate, decent, fun guys out there who have NO TROUBLE meeting people, getting dates, and having relationships.
Unfortunately, many of the guys who DO have trouble, insist that women don’t want them because they are “too Nice”. These people who call themselves “Nice Guys” can’t see that THEIR OWN behavior is the problem. …. acting in a manipulative, patronizing or obsequious fashion, these guys sabotage themselves and often blame “all women” for their misfortunes.
To me, the key is the “manipulative, patronizing, or obsequious” part.
What does this really mean?
It means that there are a LOT of guys out there who are “nice” to women, but aren’t really treating women as persons. Rather, they treat women as sexual objects, something to be conquered, the PRIZE for being A NICE GUY. This is simply not genuine. And not really NICE.
These are the guys that comment on your Facebook post, start a conversation with you that actually seems to be intellectual, but within a short time, will shift to trying to pick you up. NOT because there was mutual interest percolating – of course that can happen (but let’s be honest, it doesn’t happen every other day!) – but because they would make that type of offer to any woman they have a dialogue with. With the hope that eventually one will say yes. There may be a modicum of real interest in the original topic, but eventually objectification rears its ugly head.
These are the guys who befriend you, maybe even after asking you out and being rejected, who eventually try for “comfort” sex after you break up with the guy you are dating, or go for pity sex, or FWB status (notice how many times that happens when you’re feeling vulnerable). These guys may spend a really long time being your friend – even years! – but in the end, if they feel anything like “I listened to her, I was nice to her, I did this and that for her, tried to give her what she wanted… but it didn’t WORK!” Whoa – didn’t work? This means at some fundamental level, even if at times they really acted as friend, at the base of it was a desire/expectation that they would GET YOU. Which again, reduces you to a thing. To be gotten.
These are the guys who ask you out nicely, but when you say “no”, they try to convince you (Why not? Do you have a boyfriend? What do you have to lose? ) which in its most benign form is disrespectful of your stated desire, and in its more malignant forms turns into actual manipulations, trying to make you feel guilty, or even worse – preying on your insecurities. If they are good at being NICE GUYS™, they will do all of that very “nicely”. But then there are the ones who then respond with anger – all women are really bitches, women *say* they want a nice guy but they really only like assholes, etc. Think about the ENTITLEMENT reeking from this – if I’m a nice guy, I deserve to HAVE YOU. The corollary to this is, you really don’t have the basic right to refuse them.
There are the guys who think they are being NICE to you because they are complimenting you on your looks. Nope, no objectification THERE.
As an aside (well not really an aside, more like an extreme result of the above that deserves its own post), when manipulation of the types described above does “work” and leads to sex, the woman involved often feels extremely violated. There is a lot of discussion of whether this qualifies as rape, and it’s a worthy topic, just not the one I’m discussing today. So I will avoid definition of this behavior as rape in any criminal-code sense of the word, but will say this: if a woman FEELS raped (used, abused, violated… pick your negative term) after being with you, how NICE does that really make you? Hmmm, not so nice.
If you read any of the threads I’ve cited, you will see many, MANY examples of nice guys™ responding. It’s amazing how easy they are to spot once you know what you’re looking for. For example, they are patronizing, and they lack the ability to take responsibility. They come into the discussion oozing sympathy, (look what a nice guy I am!!), but inevitably turn it (whatever the issue is) on the women. Like a guy who responded to a thread on women saying NO (yes, another future topic), who started out being sympathetic to women feeling harassed, but eventually made statements like women who say no angrily probably do that because of prior trauma (like that’s the only reason they might get mad at YOU) or having in the past “failed to set adequate boundaries” (yup, it’s THEIR fault they got harassed!).
Or the one who complained that nice guys like him spend years listening/being the shoulder to cry on/helping move house… And the girls “never respond in kind, physically”. Eww.
Et cetera, et cetera.
So there we have it. Another example of that pesky word that gives me such a creepy feeling
Hi, I had to think about that a bit because it certainly hit some tender areas for me.
I think it’s worth making a distinction between the kind of guys I think you are talking about and some of those who find themselves bewildered at finding women they know complaining that they just want a nice guy but who pretty much only date bastards.
I’m well acquainted with the first kind of guy. After all, almost the first thing he’ll let you know – sometimes straight out – is that he’s ‘a nice guy’. The problem there is that he isn’t anything of the sort. Almost every man I’ve ever known who was a thorough bastard has described himself as a nice guy. Now I’ve no idea if they actually believe that or not, but self-defining as a ‘nice guy’ means sod all.
There another sub-set of guys who put on the act. These are the kind of guys who are pretty cynical about it. They know it’s bullshit, but it’s bullshit that they think will let them score. They are the modern equivalent of the bloke who spends money on a woman during a date and then feels that obligates the woman to put out. And they get aggressive and aggrieved when it doesn’t happen.
Something about these guys puzzles me: men can smell them a mile off, they pretty much ooze slime, but I’ve seen a surprising number of women who are prepared to take it at all at face value. I suspect it may because they know deep down it is bullshit, but it allows them to pretend to themselves that they are not choosing a bastard this time, but a nice guy. And as you said in your earlier post, there are an awful lot of women who are strongly drawn to bad boys (actually even the term ‘bad boys’ is a kind of way of avoiding that these are, simply, abusive men. It’s a form of soothing self-deceit because no one wants to believe they make self-destructive choices of partner.
The reason I did feel uncomfortable is that I may seem to fall into one of the categories you mention and I’m feeling a bit defensive about that. I may piss you off a bit here (if I haven’t already). I think, especially for younger women, that there is that belief you describe – bad boys are sexy and nice guys are boring.
Now I have to say that I don’t place myself in the category of men who think they are owed a shag because they are nice, but I do recognise that finding out that not being an out-and-out shitehawk is a disadvantage when it comes to sex does engender a certain bitterness – and nice guys like recreational sex as much as anyone .
I’ll put my hands up to this. I consider myself a pretty OK guy and a reasonable prospect as a partner, but have spent much of my life lonely because I’ve been rejected over my weight. There is something a bit enraging about hearing so often that women want nice men/funny men/good personalities/kindness (delete as applicable) but actually choose partners on the basis of the things that they sometimes decry. So this is my confession: I have in the past, when I’ve felt especially outcast, been very bitter about women in general and this myth of women as gentler kinder creatures. That seems to me to be an understandable feeling (not necessarily right, because it does reflect a distorted perception and imago, but not a terrible thing). I don’t think that equates to a sense of entitledness just because one’s not a complete git.
I think you have to be very careful about distinguishing between those who feel some hurt because they feel unfairly rejected and those who feel angry because they feel entitled.
The only think that puzzled me what which category you think you might fit into 🙂 I happen to think you’re a pretty okay bloke, too, at least from what I know.
I’m not saying that meeting people is never bewildering, and of course both men and women fall into that morass. So much more can be said about this, so let me say only that I think I made a distinction toward the beginning of the post — this is about guys who 1) are self-professed nice guys, 2) feel a sense of entitlement, and 3) objectify, manipulate, and lack a sense of responsibility.
Nothing here is meant to be a negative judgement about liking what you call recreational sex. I think that basically any interaction between adults is just dandy as long as it’s informed and consensual. So that is NOT the problem with nice guys(TM).
The issue of judgement based on looks — certainly a sore subject for all genders, don’t you think? The nice guy (TM), however, wants *his* fantasy girl, while failing to present as *her* fantasy guy, and then resents her. See the difference?
And finally, I totally get feeling resentful about women when you feel rejected, or lonely, or depressed. Who doesn’t have those times? The question is what you do with it, and if you didn’t go out and act like a git because of it, well — this post is simply not about you.
I *do* see value, however, in you (not just you personally, anyone), reading about this and using it to consider things, because you know what? It hasn’t happened often, but there have been times when I’ve presented some of these manipulations to men, and they had an “Aha moment”, realized they’d done that, and figured out that wasn’t who they wanted to be. I’d also like more women to be aware of this and not fall into traps, of course.
And do I think somehow there are no abusive, manipulative, shallow, badly-behaved women out there? Hell no. That’s just a different subject. However (okay, I lied when I said “finally”), one thing I edited out of the Nice Guy(TM) post was one other aspect of nice-guydom: Often, this pattern of behavior of thinking “I’ll listen, do for her, support her, buy her stuff and then she’ll like me and therefore have sex with me” places these guys as prime targets for those types of women, feeding the resentment cycle. In other words, if they were looking at the woman as a person, if they really liked her, and were doing what is generally healthy and productive to have a relationship, that wouldn’t happen, because he wouldn’t be going for THAT woman. The situation develops into one where *HIS* objectification and manipulation is a perfect partner for *HER* greed and exploitation.
And truly finally this time: I, and by extension this blog, leave NO ROOM for any generalized characterizations of women, even if supposedly positive ones such as gentler, kinder… Just like you will never see me saying “all men are ____”. Some men are nice guys(TM). Some are something else. Some women are … Fill in the blank. So that was never an implied part of the post.
Thank you so much for your very thoughtful response, Ian! I think my response to you is longer than the original post.
my dear god, there’s NO SUCH THING as unfair rejection by women for christ’s sake. you self proclaimed “nice/good guys” don’t fucking get it. you claim to “have been raised as gentlemen to respect women”, and that you respect how we feel. all of that goes out the window when we tell you no, and turn you down. if you genuinely respect women, our feelings and our choices, then by definition, you respect our right to turn you down. there is NO line “between those who feel some hurt because they feel unfairly rejected and those who feel angry because they feel entitled”, as you put it.
what most guys don’t understand is, we girls don’t date or bed guys to whom we feel no attraction one, and two…………….ATTRACTION ISN’T A CONSCIOUS CHOICE. either we “feel it” for a guy, or we don’t. no amount of bleating and whining:”but i’m a “good guy”, give me a chance. get to know me, you’ll see i’m a “good guy””, will change that. the problem common to all self proclaimed “nice/good guys” is insecurity, lack of confidence/low self esteem. a poorly definied sense of self, and a lack of emotional maturity. like it or not, self proclaimed “nice/good guys”, are as boring, unattractive, and unsexy as guys come. “nice guys” deal so poorly with being told no by women, because they’re self esteem is so poor. they’re clingy, desperate, and needy. they need the approval of others to shore up their flagging self worth…………especially the approval of women. it’s why they so readily cry:”but i’m a “good guy”, give me a chance”. what they’re really saying is “my self esteem/self worth is so low, that i need you to approve of, like and validate me………because i can’t do that myself”. i’m sorry to tell you ian richardson, there’s nothing remotely attractive about a guy who looks at women as surrogate mommies. who wants us to lead him around by the hand and mommy him, because his nads never dropped……..and he doesn’t have a fucking clue
Hmm, a last couple of thoughts…
Reading some of the other blogs you cite I can see that they are often referring to something you talk about as a defining characteristic, which is the manipulative element to Nice Guys (TM) being nice.
They are nice because (a) they believe that means the woman owes them and they expect a sexual pay off for that , and (b) it’s a kind of rather old fashioned seductive device. OK, I must admit that this seems pretty clear cut, but starts to get murky when you look at it in detail.
I like to think I’m pretty supportive of my friends regardless of gender, but I have noticed a couple of things that can happen when I’ve been especially close to women friends during a bad time. One is that you start to feel you are developing a special level of intimacy with them. Now that happens with guys too (in fact I’m having that happen at the moment with a friend), but feelings of intimacy in a relationship with the opposite sex do often seem to lead almost immediately to sexual desire. At that point I’m damn sure that if you don’t try and reign it in and not act on it (I always do) then it starts to seem that you’ve been exploitative. Not sure how one avoids that without being repressed.
The other thing that one of the bloggers mentioned is that there are plenty of really nice guys who have no problems getting relationships. I think this is an especially valid point,l but again not as clear cut as it may seem.
I think there are a number of things that get confused here: relationships and recreational sex, and rejection and desirability. The interplay between all those gets a bit tricky. Not being a bastard does not get you rejected, but when it comes to recreational sex it places you at a disadvantage, and it’s very easy (yes, yes, I mean me) to start to view that disadvantage as rejection. There’s also this weird myth that nice blokes are all about relationships and not sex (not too different from the old stereotype of ‘nice’ girls). well’,sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t and sometimes one leads to the other, in any order. I have to say that the guys who tend to have lots sex but few stable relationships are indeed indifferent to their transient partners at a very fundamental level. What does that mean? Answers on a postcard please.
One thing I advocate for both men and women is being clear on what it is you want, and taking responsibility for it. You are never guaranteed to get it, but it sure simplifies things. I’m still working of knowing how to do that.
If people become intimate, and that leads to sexual desire — why do you think that’s a problem (in the context of the post)? Either it’s mutual — great! Or not, and well, that’s her/his prerogative too. The only problem I see is if one side resents the other, feels entitled, or moves into manipulation mode. As to feeling repressed vs. exploited — I really don’t know what to say. I’ll have to think about it.
The fact that it can get messy, leave you vulnerable, change the relationship… Well yeah. Things sure do get mixed up together. We’re human, it comes with the territory.
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Best article I ever read on this. After 45 years of this kind of thing from men, I don’t trust them as far as I see them.
The one thing ALL self proclaimed Nice Guys have, is a squeamish lack of confidence, they’re insecure with a poorly defined sense of self…….and an obnoxious sense of self entitlement when it comes to Females and sex. They all seem to believe that them being “NIce” and such “Good Guys”, entitles them to what they want when it comes to a Female
YES! Thank you. “Nice Guy” = “I can’t handle rejection so I’m going to blame everything bad that ever happens to me on the fact that I’m too nice. That way everything is everyone else’s fault and nothing is mine.” Please. If a nice guy is truly a nice guy, would he have to advertise it?
Poor self esteem and a need for approval Ktine……….simple as that
yet clueless “nice guys” wonder why i chose johann, over the never ending conga line of “nice/good guys” that hump my leg, and want my attention everyday. this is exactly why=)
there’s no doubt that women often choose guys that are assholes, not all of we girls will deny that. but maybe, those assholes present with self confidence, don’t have the overgrown 13 year old high school guy issues “nice guys” have, and actually ask women out for starters. they front women with confidence, demonstrate they own a set and have a clue, and actually ask us out. they’re prepared to do what “nice guys” can’t do, risk being told no, and ask women out. “nice/good guys” can’t do that, because their low self esteem means they fear rejection. if you’re not prepared to be a man, ask a woman out and prepared to have her turn you down and say no…………..then you have no business expecting her to say yes, and have the chance to be with her. you have to risk being told no by a girl, to earn the chance to hear her say yes………but “nice/good guys” can’t accept that